Pentagon Federal Credit Union, known as PenFed was established in 1935 in Alexandria, Virginia. Today, PenFed is one of the top competitor financial institutions with over 1 million members taking place as the 3rd largest in the nation. Pentagon Federal Credit Union members are the brave men and women of this country who diligently serve their country and community. Many of Pentagon Federal members are actively employed by the military, state and local governments, and work as educators in schools. Pentagon Federal Credit Union currently serves members all over the United States, Washington DC , as well as military bases in Guam, Puerto Rico , Okinawa, Turkey, and Portugal.

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Rank Chart
Total Assets
Number of Locations
Our Score
#1
$8.32 Billion
13
7.7
#2
$17.84 Billion
20+
7.3
#3
$66.82 Billion
260+
7.2

The Good

PenFed is a Credit Union that is limited in Membership to individuals in the field of all branches of Active Duty Military personnel extending to retired military, or current/retired employees of state agencies and many other state departments and auxiliary branches throughout the United States and overseas.

PenFed Strives to provide the best rates on car loan and home mortgages. They also have 3 credit cards that offer incentives and features that is hard for other Credit Unions to match. With the Rewards Visa Signature Card, customers can receive benefits such as:

  • 5x points back on gas purchases at the pump
  • 3x points back on supermarket purchases
  • 1x point back on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Eligible for virtual checkout with Apple Pay

PenFed offers a Dividend checking account called Access America Checking  to their members with a tiered APY rate from anywhere from .20% – .50%, and they only require $25 to open the dividend checking account. PenFed also offers a regular Savings Account to establish membership with PenFed. The Savings Account has an APY of .05% and only requires $5 minimum to open, with no minimum balance requirements.  A PenFed Savings Certificate has terms available for 6 months or more with rates varying on the length of the term starting at .60% for 6 months and jumps to 1.21% for a 1 year term and requires a $1000 minimum deposit.

The Bad

There seems to be some stipulations on the Dividend checking accounts. Such as the account is a variable rate account, this can be good and bad, as rates increase but when they decrease you will not get as high of a return. The  APY is valid as of last dividend declaration date of July 11, 2015, this is typical of a Credit Union, but will fluctuates and isn’t locked in. There are fees that may reduce earnings on account, but they are not specified. While there is only a minimum deposit of $25 required to open account it looks like there is a minimum requirement for a daily balance of $500, or a monthly direct deposit of $500 to avoid a monthly service fee of $10.00. This is could be aggravating if you need access to that $500 sitting in your account.

The tiers for the Dividend Checking account is really high to reach, the tier for the .20% is actually really great though compared to other Credit Unions who on average only offer .10% for their dividend checking.   For balances under $20,000 the APY is .20% and anything over $20,000 up to $50,000 is .50%. Out of three tiers of checking accounts, only the higher two offer interest, the dividends also are based on how much a member direct deposits into their account, for a higher dividend a $1000 direct deposit must be met. Also, the rate for a savings account is disappointingly low compared to other Credit Unions that actually offer around .15%-.20% for their basic savings accounts.

The minimum requirement for savings certificates or Money Market Certificates is $1000, while other Credit Unions are usually around $500, and sometimes even lower, also the rate is locked in, while PenFed certificate rates are on the upper end as far as certificate rates go, other Credit Unions do offer special perks that allow their members to adjust the rate one time during the term if certificate rates do increase, and PenFed does not.

The Bottom Line

Pentagon Federal Credit Union has some really great things going for them. This ensures that PenFed is meeting a special set of requirements in customer care and satisfaction.

It is strange how their rates seem to be backwards with higher rates for their checking and a much lower rate for their savings, but their dividend checking rate is really good. The $500 minimum for balance or deposit is a little lame, just to waive a $10 fee, considering that PenFed mostly serves active Military for the United States.  Aside from that, PenFed appears to offer average interest rates on their auto, home and personal loans and a free checking account with tons of perks, including Apple Pay.

They are also accessible in all 50 States and military bases around the globe and with their thousands of surcharge free ATM’s members have access to higher withdrawal balances if necessary. This is appealing to those who are currently serving overseas as those members will not need to worry about accessing funds. If $500 daily balance or $500 monthly deposit isn’t an issue for you, then PenFed has some of the best dividend checking rates available to military members and would be a great choice in Credit Union based off of accessibility alone.

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